Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market's Politically-Connected Public Relations Firm APCO Worldwide

Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA appears to be increasing the use of its Washington, D.C.-based politically-connected international public relations, public affairs, lobbying and strategic communications firm APCO Worldwide.

APCO Worldwide, which is headquartered in Washington D.C., along with having numerous offices and affiliates located in North America, Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Africa, was founded in 1984 by Margery Kraus in affiliation with the Washington D.C. Law Firm Arnold & Porter, which is one of the leading politically-oriented Washington law and lobbying firms. Ms. Kraus currently is the firm's president and CEO. APCO Worldwide today is an independently-owned firm, along with being designated as a "woman-owned" firm by the U.S. federal government.

The firm's U.S. offices are in Sacramento, California; Chicago, Illinois; New York City; Seattle, Washington; Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina; and Lexington, Kentucky, in addition to the headquarters office in Washington, D.C. The Sacramento office does the bulk of the firm's work for Fresh & Easy, including having one of its staffers Brendon Wonocott act as the retailer's corporate spokesperson, since the grocery chain's headquarters is in Southern California and its stores are located only in the Western U.S. states of California, Nevada and Arizona.

APCO Worldwide also has an office in Ottawa, Canada's capital city.

The firm also has affiliates throughout Latin America, in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Mexico, Peru and Panama.

APCO Worldwide also has an office in the United Kingdom, where Tesco, parent company of Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market is based. That office, founded in 1995, is considered one of the top public relations and public affairs consulting firms in the UK, having on its staff numerous politically-connected advisers from both the Labour (Liberal) and Conservative parties.

Additional Western European offices or affiliates are located in France, Germany, Italy, Switzerland and Belguim. Other international offices or affiliates include: Russia and Poland in Eastern Europe; and Israel and the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East. In Asia APCO Worldwide has offices or affiliates in: China, India, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand and Vietnam.

APCO Worldwide describes itself as: "A global communication consultancy specializing in building relationships with an organization's key stakeholders."

From its website: "These relationships are critical to the full range of challenges our clients (APCO Worldwide) face. We believe an organization's reputation is the culmination of how such challenges are managed. In the end, this work builds and protects an organization's value and the value of its products and services. It is our goal to be your trusted partner of choice and help you create this value – by pushing the boundaries of communication and providing global service, culture by culture." Click here to read a further description of how the firm says it approaches public relations and public affairs consulting.

APCO Worldwide's client- base includes foreign governments, U.S. and state government agencies, trade associations, Fortune 500 corporations, non-profit organizations and others. You can view a listing of some of the firm's current clients here.

The Washington D.C.-based consultancy also includes among its past and present employees and advisers a "who's who" of former political figures.

Among some of the bigger names include: former George W. Bush White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan; former U.S. Senator from Kansas and Republican candidate for President Robert Dole; former Republican Senator Mike Oxley, co-author with former Democratic Senator Paul Sarbanes of the famous Sarbanes-Oxley financial industry reform legislation; Darren Murphy (in the UK), a former key advisor to ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair; and numerous other big names in the U.S. and international political world.

Among APCO Worldwide's many areas of expertise include governmental relations and political lobbying, areas Tesco's Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market USA can tap into as the efforts by the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union's campaign in the United States (and in the United Kingdom) to unionize Fresh & Easy's store-level workers intensifies, which it is doing.

Like most politically connected Washington D.C.-based public affairs firm's, APCO Worldwide makes sure to hire an equal amount of politically connected Democrats and Republicans, which allows it to deal with either a Republican or Democratic Presidential Administration and a Congress comprised of a majority of either party.

APCO Worldwide also has experienced public relations specialists, including many former journalists, who aren't politically connected but have extensive experience in corporate communications, media relations, publicity generation and other specialties. These are the executives who do the everyday PR work.

In fact, it isn't just governmental relations, media relations and related expertise Tesco is using APCO Worldwide for. The firm's Sacramento, California office is bringing Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market into the social marketing world, having set up a site on the website which it is using to publicize the Fresh & Easy stores and the grocery chain with stores in Southern California, Metropolitan Las Vegas, Nevada and the Phoenix, Arizona Metro region. [Fresh & Easy Buzz has had a site on Twitter for a couple of months. You can view it here.]

APCO's Sacramento office set up the Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market site on Twitter on August 27. It's been using it to publicize the stores in various ways, along with linking to posts made by Tesco Fresh & Easy Neighborhood Market director of marketing Simon Uwins in the Fresh & Easy corporate blog.

In 2007, the Sacramento Business Journal, a key business publication in the California capital city, ranked APCO-Sacramento as the region's number one independent public relations firm.

According to 'O Dwyer's PR List, a major PR industry trade publication, APCO International earned $81,844,117 in net fees in 2006. It noted the firm had a total of 470 employees at the end of 2006.

Another major public relations industry trade publication, PR Week, ranked APCO Worldwide as the fourth-largest public relations/public affairs agency in the United States as of 2008, with total revenue in 2007 of $57,386, 800, which according to the publication was a 16% increase over 2006 revenue of $49,454,766. PR Week says the firm has 243 employees as of 2008, and noted its estimate for 2006 was a total of 229 employees worldwide, rather than the 470 stated by 'O Dwyer's for that same year.

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